Want to track the effectiveness of online marketing campaigns across traffic sources?

This is where UTM tagging comes in.

If you’re a digital marketer, you’ve probably heard this countless times: “Remember to UTM tag the campaigns and ads.”

Well, I still get reminded from time to time. But I do this almost every time I set up a campaign so UTM tagging is like a natural habit for me.

Today, I’ll share the definition of UTM and its numerous benefits.

[Marketing Tips] Ultimate Guide To UTM Tracking - Get More Out Of Your Digital Marketing Efforts

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What Is UTM?

UTM Overview

According to Wikipedia, Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) parameters are variants of URL parameters used by marketers to track the effectiveness of online marketing campaigns across traffic sources. They were introduced by Google Analytics’ predecessor Urchin. The parameters can be parsed by analytics tools and used to populate reports.

Here is an example URL that has 5 UTM parameters:


UTM Parameters

The UTM parameters can be used in any order:

  • Source: Referrer (e.g. google, newsletter)
  • Medium: Marketing medium (e.g. cpc, banner, email)
  • Campaign Name: Product, promo code, slogan, specific product promotion or strategic campaign (e.g. spring_sale)
  • Term: Identify the paid keywords
  • Content: Use to differentiate ads

Source, Medium and Campaign Name, which are the most important, are required fields. Do check out my blog post on how to name your marketing campaigns.

How To Create UTM-Tagged URLs For Your Campaigns

Based on the example URL above, you simply have to add “utm_source”, “utm_campaign” etc. to your URLs.

To stick to consistent naming and append relevant UTM parameters to the appropriate URLs, you can use a spreadsheet or the automated Google Analytics URL Builder.

Whatever you choose, I strongly recommend that you jot down these UTM-tagged URLs somewhere for easy reference.

Also, note that you won’t need UTM-tagged URLs for Google Ads if you link Google Ads and Google Analytics (which will thus enable auto-tagging). Google uses a parameter called GCLID (Google Click Identifier) instead. For example, if someone clicks on your Google ad for www.example.com, the final URL will look like www.example.com/?gclid=123xyz.

Campaign URL Builder Test

Benefits Of UTM

Identify Top Traffic Channels

By analyzing the source and medium UTM parameters, you can determine the top channels that drive traffic to your website. In fact, you may even increase your marketing budget and efforts here and run more campaigns.

On the other hand, you may discontinue campaigns or rethink your marketing strategy for least effective channels.

Let’s say, most of your top channels’ medium is cpc. CPC, which stands for cost per click, probably means that you ran a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign. This could mean Google, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn ads etc. In such cases, you might choose to top up budget in these marketing campaigns. If your top channels’ medium is social. This probably means that you ran a few social posts that drove traffic to your site. In such cases, you might ramp up your organic social media marketing efforts. Likewise, you can compare sources like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, newsletter etc. to figure out the networks that are generating traffic.

By comparing the different sources and mediums and identifying sources and mediums that are working and aren’t, you’ll make better informed decisions. Do track these over time and check in on the performance regularly.

Photo by yourschantz on Pixabay

Track Campaign Performance

If you properly name the UTM campaign parameter, you will know which campaign resonates with your target audience and get them to click through to your website. This could be a particular product or service, promotion or sale etc. Analyzing this data can guide your content and promotion strategies.

Let’s say you name the UTM campaign parameter based on the campaign name on the ads platform. This makes it easier to determine which marketing campaigns are effective and which are not. You can also easily make a data-driven decision to increase the budget or pause campaigns.

Facebook - Ads Manager - Campaigns Tab

Pinpoint Converting Keywords

If you add UTM term parameter, you can identify keywords that are working best.

Again, note that you won’t need to add UTM parameters if you link Google Ads and Google Analytics (which enables auto-tagging). You’ll be able to see the keywords of Google Search campaigns in Google Analytics.

Other paid advertising platforms may not have this data unless you add the UTM term parameter to your URLs.

Photo by Wokandapix on Pixabay

Attribute Results To The Right Content

Analyzing the UTM content parameter will allow you to find out which ad, content or messaging resonates with your target audience.

Diving deep into this detail will give you data on which marketing angles are effective in persuading people to buy your products and services.

Let’s say Content A works well for a certain channel or campaign. You might bring that same Content A into poor-performing channels or campaigns and see if the message or ad improves the performance.

Facebook - Ad Variations Versions

Measure A/B Test Results

As mentioned, appending UTM parameters to your URLs tells you a lot about the traffic to your site. You can figure out the channel, campaign, content, keyword and more.

By properly naming these UTM parameters, you can also understand the results of your A/B tests and determine the impact of changing a specific variable.

Let’s say that you use the UTM content parameter to differentiate 2 ad angles: benefits and promotion. If the promotion ad resulted in the most conversions, you can conclude from this A/B test that promotion is more effective in persuading people to buy your products.

MailerLite - AB Testing

Determine High-Converting Channels, Campaigns, Content etc.

The top priority for most businesses is conversions or leads, rather than traffic.

If you use UTM parameters in conjunction with Google Analytics goals, you’ll be able to see which channels, campaigns and content are driving the most conversions and converting at the highest rate.

Armed with this data, you can refine your marketing strategy and increase your return on investment (ROI). For example, you may choose to devote resources elsewhere if certain channels and campaigns aren’t working.

Photo by FirmBee on Pixabay

Now It’s Your Turn

Hopefully, you’ll have a better understanding of what UTM is and how it helps you when running marketing campaigns!


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Nicole C. W. All Rights Reserved.

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